Sex, or a lack of it, can cause serious strain in a relationship. It is an important aspect of building intimacy in a relationship and involves both the mind and body.
Q: A month ago, I asked to break up with my girlfriend of eight years. We're both in our mid-30s and were rarely intimate in the last few years. I was the one who always initiated sex and she obliged.
I don't feel the connection and passion anymore. She has lost interest in me and this makes me feel unloved and neglected. She could go on for a month or more without wanting to make love. But I just wanted to spend more time connecting emotionally and physically.
We saw each other often and did other activities together as a couple. I know intimacy may not be the most important factor in a loving and long-lasting relationship, but it was frustating as I have a healthy libido, so I turned to masturbating to fulfil my need.
I even confessed this to her and told her that I'm afraid I might even cheat on her over time - which is something I absolutely detest as it goes against everything we've worked for in our relationship.
I even tried dressing up and doing other things to spice up things between us. The last thing I want is to make her feel low and inadequate. I want us to work on our relationship and close the "void" between us.
I have addressed this issue and expressed myself on many occasions. But she never put much effort into it, even after various discussions.
We have been through thick and thin together and I love her so much, more than she could ever imagine.
When I asked to break up, she didn't defend herself or say anything; I even sensed relief on her part. I know her well enough to realise that she, too, had been thinking of a separation, but for how long I don't know.
I didn't tell anyone about our split because, at the back of my mind, I still hoped for a reconciliation, no matter how remote the chance. But she announced it to her family and friends almost immediately and I was disheartened.
We're still in touch via ocasionaI text messages. Although I'm the one who broke off our relationship, I'm hurting badly inside and feel a huge void. I miss her terribly and find it difficult to let her go.
A: It looks like there are a few things you're upset about - your girlfriend's attitude towards sex, her attitude towards your breakup, and her behaviour thereafter.
Sex, or a lack of it, can cause serious strain in a relationship. It is an important aspect of building intimacy in a relationship. It is about discovering your partner, and yourself. It is also about seeking pleasure. Sex involves the mind and body, a fact that's often overlooked.
Many couples think there is something wrong with them or their partner when they have sex troubles in their relationship. But it's not just male pleasure or needs that have to be fulfilled. Sex is something that has to be negotiated with your partner, and her wishes must be respected at all times.
Your threatening to seek fulfilment outside of your relationship is just that - a threat intended to push or pressure her into having sex with you. This kind of behaviour is disrespectful of your partner.
There is no standard for a healthy libido. Everybody is different and so are their needs, sexual or otherwise. There is nothing wrong with masturbation, but being in a relationship does not guarantee that you will be having sex with someone.
Just because your partner says no does not mean that she is not attracted to or interested in you. Do you know what her thoughts are on this matter?
For many of us, thoughts of sex are influenced by popular culture, our own culture and what we were taught by family and school. The information coming from these sources is often conflicting, and can cause confusion. Past sexual experience can also have an effect on attitudes towards sex, especially if there was abuse involved.
I am not implying that you abused her, or that she has had an abusive past. I am only highlighting the various factors involved in attitudes towards sex.
The only way you can find out any of this is to talk to her. Both of you need to feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about it.
There should be no prejudice, or fear of it, arising from this conversation. If you want to talk to her about your relationship, or if the two of you want to give it another shot, work towards this conversation.
As much as you perceived her readiness to break up, the issue here is your expectations of her. You had already decided to break up, so why did you expect her to "defend herself"? If she had done that, would you have changed your mind?
So she told her friends and family. What does that mean? Perhaps she is looking for support in a difficult time. If reconciliation is what you want, this should not matter to you. After all, they are not leading your life.
A lot of the issues you have raised are not exclusive to this relationship. They will be useful also for any relationship you are in.
I hope you will be able to have the conversation with her and find out what she wants, and negotiate what both of you want and come to a conclusion that satisfies the two of you.